BTG Hope

"The BTG Program provides needed resources to the many thousands of community-based organizations that are working to create a more socially just and compassionate world. Because of their support, many nonprofits are able to reach and enrich the lives of many more people."
BTG Community Preceptor

Philadelphia Consortium Projects - 2018

Community Health (including HIV/AIDS)

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A Multidisciplinary Approach to Summer Youth Enrichment

Student Interns:
Jessica Konolige, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Rohit Reddy, Temple University, School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Nora Jones, PhD, Temple University

Community Preceptor:
Bahiyyah Clark, Beckett Life Center

The Community Site:
The Beckett Life Center, a community center located in North Philadelphia, was founded through the collaborative effort of the Union Housing Development Corporation, Global Synergies and Beckett Gardens, an apartment complex for low-income families. The goal of the center is to become a space where dedicated community advocates can support the North Philadelphia community in building personal and professional skills to overcome barriers to success. Beckett Life holds regular programs to create an atmosphere that supports and promotes the healthy growth of children and families. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
Along with other counselors at Beckett Life Center, the Bridging the Gap student interns helped organize and execute a summer enrichment program for the children of Beckett Gardens. Through multidisciplinary collaboration, the interns helped give the summer camp a different theme each week, from arts and humanities to travel. The interns planned a health and wellness week that focused on engaging the children in habits necessary to promote a healthy lifestyle, with special emphasis on physical activity and heart health.

Intern Statements:
Jessica Konolige: “Working at Beckett Life Center can only be described as incredibly developmental, as these seven weeks provided me with firsthand experiences that furthered my education in a way no classroom could. In the classroom, we talked about the social determinants of health. However, it was only once I started to work at Beckett Life Center that I truly saw how much social factors can greatly impact our health. My extremely humbling BTG experience will follow me throughout my career, as it will serve as a reminder that there is more to medicine and healthcare than a clinic.”

Rohit Reddy: “My six weeks at Beckett Life Center has greatly impacted my development as a future pharmacist. My experiences at the camp showed me the importance of empathy in my future practice. In addition, BTG has shown me I was spending too much of my time and energy in seeking accolades and titles. While important, I had lost sight of my original motivation to pursue a career in healthcare: to serve my community!”

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Finding Community in Cancer

Student Interns:
Cynthia Niño, Drexel University College of Medicine
Jennifer Wainwright, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Ryan Schroeder, MD, Abington-Jefferson Health

Community Preceptors:
Beth Cribb, MSW, LSW, Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia
Stephanie Fortunato, MS, NCC, Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia

The Community Site:
The Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia provides professional programs of emotional support, education and hope for people whose lives have been affected by cancer, including individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer, caregivers, children who have a parent diagnosed with cancer and individuals who have lost a loved one to cancer. Programs are provided completely free of charge so that no one has to face cancer alone. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns planned, implemented and participated in programs for the members of the Cancer Support Community of Greater Philadelphia, including a pink-ribbon culture discussion, Spanish lessons, calligraphy classes, tech workshops and a kids’ day at Smith Memorial Playground. The interns also observed and participated in existing programs such as qigong and cancer support groups. They approached each situation with an open mind, learning more about the cancer experience unique to every individual.

Intern Statements:
Cynthia Niño: “This experience gave me a new perspective on the social aspects of life for people who are facing cancer. My co-intern and I planned a variety of events geared towards teaching new skills or starting a discussion to members engaged if their energy levels allowed. While most of my summer experience gave me insight towards the inner workings of a small nonprofit organization, there were brief interactions with members that changed how I will view people facing a long-term illness.”

Jennifer Wainwright: “Interning at Cancer Support Community gave me greater insight on the importance of members of the medical team that are often overlooked, including social workers, counselors, social support systems and wellness specialists. As my co-intern and I facilitated events, we were able to observe how members benefited from the programs and the strong community at our site. As a future physician, I can now feel confident recommending a resource like Cancer Support Community with personal understanding of the benefits.”

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A Beacon of Hope Through Outreach and Art

Student Interns:
Venkata Meka, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Paulina Rudy, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Program
Toobah Wali, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Doctor of Pharmacy Program

Academic Preceptors:
Pat A. Lannutti, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Cathy Y. Poon, PharmD, FPPAG, FCPP, University of the Sciences, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy

Community Preceptors:
Lakisha Bullock, Community Center at Visitation
Sister Barbara Giehl, Community Center at Visitation
Sister Betty Scanlon, MBA, Community Center at Visitation

The Community Site:
The Community Center at Visitation (CCV) is a nonprofit organization located in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. CCV serves a diverse area and provides a destination for community members to learn, grow and develop into responsible citizens. It provides a variety of regular events and services for the community, including a weekly food pantry, open gym hours, English as a second language (ESL) courses, community dinners and youth empowerment programs. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Community Center at Visitation (CCV) held its second annual five-week Summer Art Camp for youth aged 9 to 15, led by three Bridging the Gaps student interns and three junior counselors. Daily camp activities included various art projects, from creating personal collages and slime making to animation projects and clay modeling. With access to a full-size indoor recreational gymnasium and outdoor playground, campers increased their physical activity by actively participating in athletics and other interactive fitness games throughout each day. A pedometer challenge was introduced to motivate campers to increase their daily step count, which was recorded at the end of each day. Campers also participated in field trips to the local public library, the community swimming pool and the Mütter Museum to encourage their community engagement. In addition, all campers and junior counselors under the age of 18 were provided with a nutritionally balanced breakfast and lunch to promote healthy eating. CCV’s Summer Art Camp enabled the campers to learn and understand the importance of maintaining their health through proper nutrition and physical activity, while expressing themselves through arts and crafts.

Intern Statements:
Venkata Meka: “BTG CHIP at Visitation helped me to grow by showing me the different ways that children develop across Philadelphia. Providing enriching and educational activities for the children helped show the importance of stimulating activities for their growth. In the future, this has made me more passionate about pursuing a career in pediatrics and being a healthcare advocate for children.”

Paulina Rudy: “As a future osteopathic doctor, I got to grow and sharpen my skills in health promotion and education, especially towards the younger population. I emphasized the importance of nutrition and physical activity through a variety of activities. These activities included areas of yoga, importance of stretching and healthy eating habits. I hope the campers continue to incorporate the lessons instilled upon them.”

Toobah Wali: “As a Bridging the Gaps intern this summer, I learned from the children, the supportive staff at CCV and the community itself. Prior to this internship, I understood the challenges of living in an underserved community; however, this internship showed me that the youth in an area like Kensington are the most vulnerable population, making them more predisposed to social, educational and medical challenges as they develop and enter adulthood. This experience has helped me strengthen my skills in communication and empathy and has motivated me even more to pursue my goals of working in a clinic in an underserved community as a clinical pharmacist, but most importantly as a patient advocate.”

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(C) (L)earning Inside and Outside the (C)lassroom!

Student Interns:
Kristen Leong, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Catherine Wilsnack, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Stephen Brown, Outreach Coordinator, Community Learning Center

The Community Site:
The Community Learning Center (CLC) is a nonprofit organization that provides access to basic adult education, workforce preparation skills and ESL classes to low-income individuals in Philadelphia. Students attend weekly classes that prepare them for the GED and HiSET exams and allow them to graduate with their high school diplomas. In addition to education, CLC provides professional development workshops and career services support to maximize students’ potential in gaining employment. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Healthcare; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns provided ancillary classroom support to Community Learning Center staff by working with small groups of adult learners to develop skills necessary to pass the high school equivalency test. The interns also developed workshops to engage the adult learners with titles such as “Oral Health Mythbusters,” “Mental Health and Anger Management” and “Nutrition and Wellness.” The interns also participated in community outreach: They went out into the community to engage as many eligible and willing adult learners as possible. They spread awareness of the services offered at the Community Learning Center, such as high school equivalency testing, résumé and cover letter writing, job applications, computer literacy and interview preparation. The interns also compiled a database of local resources for the various CLC sites so that community members would have an easy way to determine the closest health, childcare or dental facilities.

Intern Statements:
Kristen Leong: “Bridging the Gaps at Community Learning Center has allowed me to reevaluate my perspective on the patients who struggle to make it to appointments on time, who have difficulty taking their medications as prescribed or who fail to care for their own health when they have so many other struggles in their lives. Learning about health literacy issues in Philadelphia and witnessing literacy difficulties firsthand has given me a greater appreciation for the struggle of the patients as they try to navigate health insurance, informed consent documents and medical forms. This experience has broadened my perspective and allowed me to begin to understand and work to break down the barriers to care that exist within Philadelphia.”

Catherine Wilsnack: “Through Bridging the Gaps at Community Learning Center, I learned how education and healthcare intersect inside and outside of the classroom. I witnessed how access to basic education and healthcare is critical for development in all aspects of an individual’s physical and mental health. I was able to learn more about the idea of community as the students illustrated the concept through language, culture, interdependency and continuous gratitude. Within the CLC community, I was enamored by the unwavering support that coworkers and students provided to each other in building educational and social connections. Above all, this experience has been nothing but encouraging and fruitful as I feel like I learned more from the students than I would have ever expected.”

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To Health Careers … and Beyond!

Student Interns:
Sara Fay Goldstein, Drexel University, College of Nursing and Health Professions, Creative Arts in Therapy
Cindy Park, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Stacy Ellen, DO, FAAP, Drexel University College of Medicine, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

Community Preceptor:
Sarah Robbins, District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund

The Community Site:
The District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund aims to pave pathways and provide better access to careers in healthcare and human services through programming for two distinct divisions: the 1199C labor union and the community. The Training Fund applies its founding principle of dual accountability to meet both workers’ and employers’ needs, focusing on lifelong learning and work-based education to offer pathways through education and training opportunities to both adult and youth populations. The program offers career exploration opportunities for interested high school students and assists others in earning their GED or high school equivalency. This encourages students and incumbent workers to work diligently to meet their academic, financial and career goals. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Heart Disease and Stroke; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Preparedness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund interviewed all of the program directors to learn more about the various training and apprenticeship programs offered at the site. They also recorded and captured personal stories of past students and graduates about their positive experiences at the Training Fund in order to create a promotional video to highlight the educational and career options available for both the community and incumbent workers. The interns also created a workshop to educate high school graduates about different healthcare career options, with a focus on career exploration and the importance of oral and cardiovascular health.

Intern Statements:
Sara Fay Goldstein: “My BTG experience has challenged me on both a personal and professional level. Shifting my work ethic and creativity to adapt to my site has prepared me to enter into my upcoming internship, where both of these skills are valuable assets in my next role. Additionally, health topics such as smoking cessation, the opioid crisis, trauma-informed care and health literacy have challenged my views and biases and opened my mind to a variety of issues that I will need in order to be an effective mental health clinician. This act of increasing my open-mindedness also came from working in an interdisciplinary team. I am grateful to have worked with a medical student to understand both our differences and similarities and hope this paves the way for future collaborations amongst our fields. I have sincerely appreciated my BTG experience for both the challenges and educational opportunities provided.”

Cindy Park: “The BTG program was the perfect opportunity to collaborate with another student in a different discipline to tackle a task by contributing our own set of skills and knowledge and learn more about one another. In addition, the program offered an invaluable experience to discover various resources in the city that I did not initially know about. I now know that there is an amazing Training Fund right on Broad Street that offers the ability to start or advance a career in healthcare that I can recommend to my patients as a future physician. Most importantly, the program opened my eyes to the power of education and importance of providing better access for members of the community to these resources, as we had the chance to see numerous people’s lives changed through the Training Fund’s commitment to education and career advancement.”

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Healthy Energy at HERO

Student Interns:
Devki Gami, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Brittaney Hicks, Temple University, College of Pharmacy
Deepanshu Singh, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Nora Jones, PhD, Temple University

Community Preceptor:
Doris Philips, HERO

The Community Site:
HERO is a nonprofit community-based organization serving the Nicetown/Tioga community of North Philadelphia. It provides a well-balanced home environment for underserved families, helps to reduce crimes and teen pregnancies, and provides children with opportunities to excel academically and socially. HERO serves as a conduit for the community to work together to address their needs (education, jobs, nutrition, parenting, housing and nurturing). View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at HERO planned and facilitated four weeks of summer camp activities for children aged 5 to 14, including games, health lessons, team-building exercises, crafts, physical activities, dancing, science experiments and field trips — all designed to help energize kids in the North Philadelphia community around heart, mental and oral health. To promote heart health, the interns taught heart anatomy and nutrition; the students tried healthy fruits and vegetables and participated in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day to emphasize incorporating these healthy habits into their lifestyle. To address mental health, the interns taught a new value every week, including unity, empathy, confidence and hope, and reinforced these with group discussions, crafts and team-building exercises. The interns also led an afternoon session on oral health and hygiene in which students practiced good brushing techniques. The students also visited the innovation library at Temple, where they got to experience virtual reality and observe 3-D printing. Overall, the students learned how to support each other, build confidence and adapt healthy habits while participating in fun and engaging activities.

Intern Statements:
Devki Gami: “My summer at HERO was incredibly rewarding because of the people I got to work with, including my co-interns. Having volunteered at HERO throughout the year, it was wonderful to continue my service and build on my connections with the kids and the staff. The kids have been so energetic, empathetic and eager to learn, and their unconditional kindness always motivates me to provide the same. HERO is a place that will continue to be close to my heart as I continue to volunteer there and strive to know the community that I will serve as a medical student at Temple.”

Brittaney Hicks: “During my summer at HERO, I encountered so many beneficial and greatly rewarding experiences. From playing simple games outside to learning about self-care and nutrition, my heart was full watching the students learn more about themselves and life lessons. It is sometimes easy to overlook all of the different circumstances communities face daily. Through Bridging the Gaps, I was able to not only dive deeper into learning more about these, but also learn how to better communicate and interact with students who face these circumstances every day. I began my summer thinking I would be doing the teaching but ended the summer with some immeasurable knowledge I can use furthermore to become a more empathetic healthcare professional.”

Deepanshu Singh: “While working at HERO this summer I have been overwhelmed by the energy the children bring every day. During my time with the children I have seen that anyone from any background can succeed if given the resources to do so. My experience here has made me a more compassionate and understanding human being, all traits that will help me as a future physician.”

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Empowering and Advocating for Refugees and Asylees Through HIAS PA

Student Interns:
Hyun (Hannah) Kwak, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Aminata Traore, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Rachael Truchil, MD, MPH, University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Amy Eckendorf, Refugee Case Manager, HIAS and Council Migration Services of Philadelphia
Jade Flora-Holmquist, Refugee and Immigrant Social Services Coordinator, HIAS and Council Migration Services of Philadelphia

The Community Site:
HIAS and Council Migration Services of Philadelphia works to resettle, reunite and represent immigrants and refugees of limited means residing in the Delaware Valley. The agency seeks the fair treatment and integration into American society of immigrants from all backgrounds. Through the Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative, HIAS has a partnership with the Penn Center for Primary Care and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Mental Health; Oral Health.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with the reception and placement team within the refugee resettlement program of HIAS. Although families arrive from many countries, the interns assisted refugee families primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Burma, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The interns supported families in obtaining access to public benefits including Social Security, healthcare coverage, food stamps and cash assistance, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. They also supported refugee families in registering for school and English as a second language classes. Additionally, the interns used their dental and medical backgrounds to enhance families’ access to oral health and healthcare by deepening HIAS’ partnerships with Penn Dental and the Penn Center for Primary Care.

Intern Statement:
Hannah Kwak: “It is an interesting time for the refugees and asylees to be in the U.S. right now and there is so much work to be done, but I’m having an amazing experience at HIAS. Not only am I learning about the legal and logistical processes that go into helping these families settle down in a new country, but also through personal interactions and accompaniments, I’m seeing the everyday challenges and barriers in the healthcare and social services for this specific group of population here in the city of Philadelphia. I’m honored to be working with these families, and my hope is to continue working with this group throughout and beyond dental school to continuously fight for their rights and provide culturally sensitive care.”

Aminata Traore: “The future of immigration in the U.S. seems to be more precarious than ever, but working with the dedicated people at HIAS gives me hope. I am fortunate to have had the chance to work with people who are compassionate and driven to ease the transition to life in a new country for newly arrived refugees. As a member of the HIAS team, I was able to learn more about the different services that are available to new arrivals, including health insurance, monetary assistance and support with finding employment. I am so humbled to have been able to serve these newly arrived families and individuals and to have had the chance to get to know so many amazing people.”

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Educating for Healthier LGBTQ Futures

Student Interns:
Kaamila Mohamed, Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
Alanna Ticali, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Robin Canada, MD, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Elizabeth C. Kahn, MA, LAC, Mazzoni Center

The Community Site:
The Mazzoni Center is the only healthcare provider in the Philadelphia region specifically targeting the healthcare needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The Mazzoni Center combines HIV/AIDS-related services with a broad continuum of healthcare and supportive services, including outreach, prevention, education, direct medical care, case management, psychosocial services, legal services, a food bank, trans care and support groups. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; HIV; Mental Health; Responsible Sexual Behavior.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked in the Education Department at the Mazzoni Center to develop presentations and workshops focused on various aspects of LGBTQ health. One of these workshops aimed to teach LGBTQ youth about mental health and involved interactive activities and discussions facilitated by the interns. The interns also created presentations addressing LGBTQ competency for healthcare providers and medical students as well as best practices for taking an affirmative sexual history. In the future, these presentations will be used by staff at the Mazzoni Center youth space and in professional development trainings. Additionally, the interns were involved in many department meetings and collaborated on program development with Education Department staff.

Intern Statements:
Kaamila Mohamed: “My experience within the Mazzoni Center’s Education Department has reinforced my commitment to work for the holistic well-being of marginalized people and LGBTQ youth in particular. The team of staff members have modeled enthusiastic dedication to their mission. They show care to their clients, their colleagues and themselves. The background research I did for my project was a reminder of the mental health disparities experienced by the LGBTQ community, especially by LGBTQ youth. It was an incredible experience to be able to hold space for queer young people and have an open dialogue about mental health issues. They reinforced that these were important conversations and that they need to continue happening. I am inspired by the brilliance and resilience of LGBTQ youth, and we need to keep working hard to do better for them.”

Alanna Ticali: “Working at Mazzoni Center this summer has both increased my knowledge of LGBTQ health issues and strengthened my resolve to work towards bettering the lives of my LGBTQ patients throughout my career. Developing these presentations on affirmative LGBTQ healthcare not only taught me useful lessons that I will take with me to my own clinical practice, but it also gave me the confidence to know that I can teach my peers in medical school these same lessons in order to heighten my impact. My time as an intern has shown me that quality educational material and a zeal for teaching can make all the difference in changing hearts and expanding minds. It was amazing to work with and learn from the inspiring Education Department staff for even a short amount of time; they have reinforced the fact that I am part of a diverse and vibrant community whose health deserves nothing but the best that medicine can offer.”

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LGBTQ Health in Philadelphia

Student Interns:
Talia Charidah, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health
Jessica Kraus-Lavy, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptor:
Rosie Frasso, PhD, CPH, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health

Community Preceptor:
Andrew Gudzelak Jr., MS, Data Evaluation Manager, Mazzoni Center

The Community Site:
The Mazzoni Center is the only healthcare provider in the Philadelphia region specifically targeting the healthcare needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The Mazzoni Center combines HIV/AIDS-related services with a broad continuum of healthcare and supportive services, including outreach, prevention, education, direct medical care, case management, psychosocial services, legal services, a food bank, trans care and support groups. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Food Access; Health Communication; HIV; Responsible Sexual Behavior; Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns engaged with various departments at the Mazzoni Center. One of their main projects was to work with their community preceptor to assist in running and reviewing data reports to track client health status and progress. The interns also shadowed various providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners and behavioral health consultants, in order to be more familiar with the functioning of the agency. Last, the interns worked closely with the food bank coordinator at Mazzoni, helping to unload, unpack and restock the food bank after biweekly shipments from Philabundance. The interns also created healthy and affordable recipes based on the food available from the food bank, and generated a newsletter template to be distributed monthly to clients. The newsletter includes updates, new recipes and fresh food resources.

Intern Statements:
Talia Charidah: “During my time at Mazzoni Center, I was able to observe the ways in which an integrated health center operates. By incorporating social services, case management, behavioral health services etc., Mazzoni Center is able to provide comprehensive care to a population that is often marginalized within the healthcare system. Mazzoni promotes an LGBTQ-focused environment, and the provision of LGBTQ-competent care is something I believe should be incorporated into the way that all healthcare providers and public health professionals practice. The highlight of my time at Mazzoni was being able to attend and volunteer at the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, where I got to sit in on various workshops, engage with trans youth, network with other public health professionals and enjoy a weekend filled with activism, community building and inclusivity.”

Jessica Kraus-Lavy: “Working at Mazzoni Center gave me an understanding of how an integrated multidisciplinary center can work efficiently to provide well-rounded care for its patients. I came to appreciate the importance of the fact that Mazzoni not only provides primary care services, but also offers in-house behavioral counseling, social services, legal services and food assistance. Patients can come to one location and receive comprehensive support regarding a number of challenges. Over the course of this summer I gained a significantly better understanding of how the social determinants of health can interact to affect a patient’s health and well-being. At Mazzoni I learned the value of a collaborative and supportive workspace for healthcare providers who face the rigors of providing complex primary care. Mazzoni also demonstrated to me the importance of LGBTQ competency, and moving forward I hope to participate in work that ensures nearly all providers are LGBTQ competent and equipped to provide safe spaces for their patients.”

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Empowering Women in Recovery

Student Interns:
Anja Golden, Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
Ellen McQuaid, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health

Academic Preceptors:
Rosie Frasso, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Kate Baumgardner, MSW, Mercy Hospice

The Community Site:
Founded in 1976 in Philadelphia by the Sisters of Mercy order, Mercy Hospice is a recovery house providing support for mothers with children and single women who are in recovery from drugs and alcohol. While in residence they receive case management services, life-skills and parenting education, and assistance with housing. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Environmental Health; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Mental Health; Substance Abuse.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns created and administered a survey for mothers in the program to assist the program director in tailoring educational and recreational support for mothers and children in residence. They provided direct services to women in the program, including résumé and job search advice, emotional support and help scheduling doctor appointments. The interns also worked with case managers to provide women with support for life transitions including childbirth and moves to transitional or permanent housing. They also created a resource binder for residents with information about local, low-cost, fun activities and health education resources.

Intern Statements:
Anja Golden: “Working with the staff at Mercy has given me a nuanced understanding of the impact of the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia. Through this experience I realized how intertwined homelessness and addiction are, as well as the level of complexity inherent in these issues. I was consistently impressed by the compassion and dedication of the staff at Mercy. I aspire to bring the same qualities to my future work as a social worker, and I am grateful for getting to work with and learn from such a strong team.”

Ellen McQuaid: “This experience has given me a better understanding of the struggles that people, specifically women and those with children, face as they are dealing with homelessness while going through recovery. It has strengthened my ability to recognize the need for residential housing that offers case managerial support. This site has provided me with a real example of how those who are in recovery need an interdisciplinary team to assist them in leading self-fulfilling lives.”

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The Nationality Service Center

Student Interns:
Mishael Khan, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Courtney Riseborough, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health

Academic Preceptors:
Rosemary Frasso, PhD, CPH, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Population Health
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptors:
Christina Kubica, Nationalities Service Center
Ariel MacNeill, Nationalities Service Center

The Community Site:
The Nationalities Service Center (NSC), located in Center City, assists with an array of resettlement services, including housing, healthcare, employment, survivor services, English literacy and legal counseling, for immigrants and refugees in the Philadelphia area. NSC works in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University’s Family Medicine Department and other city health clinics. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Mental Health.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Nationalities Service Center worked with refugees from countries around the world, including Burma, Bhutan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Mishael worked in the Health Access office, where she accompanied clients to their health appointments, educated clients about the U.S. healthcare system and helped clients address medical and insurance issues. In addition, Mishael worked on grant applications to expand health access services to non-refugee immigrant clients. Courtney worked on the Innovative Support Program for Immigrant and Refugee Empowerment (INSPIRE) team to create disability primers for healthcare providers, educators, teachers, social workers and occupational therapists; these primers focused on the countries of Mexico, Afghanistan, Iraq, DRC and Pakistan. She also escorted clients to medical appointments.

Intern Statements:
Mishael Khan: “My time at the NSC has taught me a lot about the refugee resettlement processes and the challenges that immigrants face in every aspect of their lives as they transition to life in the U.S. By helping refugee/immigrant clients navigate the medical and insurance systems, I learned about various health resources and clinics that serve vulnerable, underinsured patients in Philadelphia. This experience will make me more sensitive to the needs of immigrants and patients of low socioeconomic status as a future physician. I have gained an increased awareness of community health resources to refer my future patients to.”

Courtney Riseborough: “Working on the INSPIRE team was a meaningful opportunity. Learning about the health and experiences of refugees and immigrants with physical and intellectual disabilities was eye-opening. Navigating the health system with clients during medical escorts was challenging, yet valuable in understanding the barriers that exist in the U.S. healthcare system for this population. Both of these activities will impact my future career and ability to understand and care for vulnerable populations.”

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Housing First for Individuals With Opioid Use Disorder

Student Intern:
Ashley Katzenstein, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptors:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
James Plumb, PhD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Lara Weinstein, MD, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Matt Tice, LCSW, Pathways to Housing PA

The Community Site:
Pathways to Housing PA has a mission of ending homelessness by utilizing a housing-first model for individuals struggling with chronic homelessness and severe mental illness or substance use disorders. Pathways provides scattered-site housing for individuals considered not housing-ready by other programs and provides intensive support from multidisciplinary teams to help them reclaim their lives in whatever their goals may be. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; HIV; Mental Health; Substance Abuse.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern worked on Pathways to Housing’s Team 7, which focuses on individuals with opioid use disorder. The intern worked with individuals in the community to provide community and street outreach, education around harm reduction and Narcan disbursement, and help accessing medication-assisted treatment and addressing both chronic and acute healthcare issues. The intern built close relationships with participants through one-on-one conversations and engagement during support of daily activities. In addition, the intern led a biweekly smoking cessation group and helped develop a guide given to participants upon their initial move-in.

Intern Statement:
Ashley Katzenstein: “The time that I spent at Pathways to Housing was absolutely invaluable. In the past, I have spent time mostly working in shelters and forming short-term relationships with individuals, but have had a lack of experience with individuals experiencing addiction. With Pathways, I was able to form strong relationships with participants and experience firsthand all of the countless factors that are influencing individuals’ health that the medical field often ignores. I additionally have become incredibly inspired to help drive the change that needs to happen in the medical field to reduce the disparities in care that people experiencing addiction face in the healthcare setting, and I also feel immensely more capable of personally providing better care for patients experiencing addiction.”

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Creating a Citywide Initiative for Overdose Reversal Education and Naloxone Distribution

Student Intern:
Shraddha Damaraju, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
David Wagner, MD, FACEP, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Allison Herens, LSW, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
Jeffrey Hom, MD, MPH, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

The Community Site:
The Opioid Surveillance, Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the Philadelphia Health Department works to increase services, education, prevention and response around opioid use and overdose. The program seeks to devise citywide solutions to prevent overdose deaths and mitigate the effects of the opioid crisis in communities all over Philadelphia. This encompasses a number of tasks, including epidemiological monitoring of crisis severity, working with other city agencies to coordinate services for treatment and overdose prevention, facilitating overdose reversal trainings all over the city, working with and providing resources to community-based organizations fighting the overdose crisis, and implementing harm reduction initiatives including naloxone distribution and fentanyl testing. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Environmental Health; Health Communication; Injury and Violence Prevention; Preparedness; Substance Abuse.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at the Opioid Surveillance, Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the Philadelphia Health Department was tasked with planning a citywide overdose reversal training initiative in partnership with various community organizations, particularly in neighborhoods severely affected by the opioid crisis. To accomplish this, the intern compiled a list of various categories of community organizations (including community development corporations, civic associations, neighborhood action committees, libraries, universities and high schools). Next, the intern used overdose mapping software and other statistics to determine “hot spot” areas — those especially suffering from the effects of the opioid crisis — and then began reaching out to community organizations within those areas to set up multiple overdose reversal trainings for members of those communities. Apart from planning this initiative, the intern led overdose reversal trainings at a variety of sites, did community outreach with harm reduction groups and the health department to distribute naloxone and raise awareness about fentanyl in West Philadelphia and Kensington, and helped to create a “train the trainer” curriculum for those interested in conducting overdose reversal trainings.

Intern Statement:
Shraddha Damaraju: “The BTG CHIP experience taught me so much about different communities affected by the opioid crisis and the importance of harm reduction in healthcare, public health and community engagement. Through this internship, I had the chance to understand the experiences of so many people affected by the opioid crisis, whether it was concerned citizens at my trainings who wanted to learn overdose reversal to help their loved ones, experienced harm reductionists who spend their lives in the field providing drug-using communities with lifesaving tools like naloxone, or community members in Kensington who helped me understand the realities of their experience with substance use and trauma. Every person I interacted with had a story to share, and through this BTG CHIP experience I truly understood the importance of listening to the community around me, something that is so incredibly important when fighting a crisis as monumental as this one. This is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life and will undoubtedly affect how I learn from and listen to my patients’ stories as a future healthcare provider.”

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Bridging the Gaps With PAP: Summer Persistence With Patient Assistance

Student Interns:
Christina Chen, Drexel University College of Medicine
Olivia Crunkleton, Drexel University, Dornsife School of Public Health
Brendan McCreath, Drexel University College of Medicine
Kaitlyn Palmer, Drexel University College of Medicine
Darshak Vekaria, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine Wainwright, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Academic Preceptors:
Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine
Ann L. O’Sullivan, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing

Community Preceptor:
Caitlynn Quinn, BA, Ambulatory Health Services, Philadelphia Department of Public Health

The Community Site:
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health runs eight health centers that provide comprehensive care for patients regardless of their insurance status or income. The health centers provide primary and preventive care for adults and children, as well as key public health services ranging from annual flu shots to family planning. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health aims to protect and promote the health of all Philadelphians through the delivery of services at the health centers. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Living; Health Literacy/Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with the Patient Assistance Programs at Philadelphia Department of Public Health district health centers. These programs help patients obtain medication through various pharmaceutical programs. The interns assisted with completing applications for medications, refilling medications in a timely manner, distributing medications to patients and appealing rejection letters. In addition, the interns interviewed patients to gather data on their satisfaction with services rendered.

Intern Statements:
Christina Chen: “Through BTG CHIP, I had the opportunity to work as a patient advocate in the Patient Assistance Program. My time working with the health center staff, patients and pharmaceutical companies has made the shortcomings of the American healthcare system that we learned about in school a reality. I’ve experienced firsthand how difficult gaining access to health services and medications can be for this low-income/immigrant population, and how frustrating it can be for both the clinicians and patients. However, successfully helping these patients get access to medication and enabling them to take control of their own health has also been incredibly rewarding. I hope to continue to work with medically underserved populations in the future, and will carry these insights with me throughout my medical career.”

Olivia Crunkleton: “I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of both of my assigned health centers. It was a welcome challenge to quickly acclimate to two different settings and adapt my own working practices to match that of the outgoing AmeriCorps members. The BTG CHIP experience has helped me position the trajectory of my future career in public health.”

Brendan McCreath: “BTG CHIP taught me some of what it is like to provide healthcare to low-income, underserved populations. It is not easy. Interacting and learning about my patients in the Patient Assistance Program, however, reminded me why it is important that we do our best to provide care for them. I hope to continue that care for those populations in my future career in medicine, and BTG CHIP helped me realize that.”

Kaitlyn Palmer: “Through my BTG experience in the Patient Assistance Program office, I learned essential advocacy skills that I will carry with me as I continue my journey to become a physician. I was exposed to the countless obstacles that low-income, underinsured and immigrant populations face in accessing basic healthcare, which helped me gain a better understanding of how to best connect with and provide for these individuals. My time as a BTG intern reinforced my passion for service, and I’m looking forward to using these newly acquired skills and knowledge to care for future patients.”

Darshak Vekaria: “Spending my summer as the Patient Assistance Program intern provided such a different perspective of the field I am pursuing. I have learned an incredible amount about patient assistance programs and enhanced my ability to properly advocate on behalf of patients. In addition, by working with this patient population, I have been able to see the struggles that they face to maintain their health. As I continue with my medical training, I will look back at my time with BTG CHIP and utilize all that I have learned to become the best physician I can possibly be for my patients.”

Katherine Wainwright: “As a nursing student interested in public health, BTG CHIP was an incredible opportunity to gain real-world experience working with patients in the community. This summer showcased firsthand the various barriers to obtaining healthcare and how the social determinants of health can impact patients across all stages of accessing care. I hope to utilize the knowledge that I gained working as a patient advocate to further inform my nursing career and to continue to promote quality care for all patients.”

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The C's of C a Difference: Community, Collaboration, Care and Cure

Student Interns:
Matilda Whitney, Drexel University College of Medicine
Dina Zaret, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptors:
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
David Wagner, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Mario Cruz Jr., MD, Philadelphia FIGHT
Lora Magaldi, MS, C a Difference

The Community Site:
C a Difference is a comprehensive hepatitis C (HCV) testing and linkage-to-care program at Philadelphia FIGHT, housed at the John Bell Health Center. C a Difference provides HCV education and counseling to providers, patients and those at risk for HCV infection. Providers and community-based testers are encouraged to screen all eligible patients and clients regularly for both HIV and HCV. Patient navigation and linkage services are provided within the FIGHT healthcare system as well as between FIGHT and other healthcare entities in the area. High-quality confidential testing, education and linkage services are provided in C a Difference offices and at various sites throughout the city. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; HIV; Substance Abuse.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Philadelphia FIGHT’s C a Difference joined patient navigators and community testers/phlebotomists at community sites throughout the city, such as inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers and medication-assisted treatment centers. There, the interns assisted with hepatitis C testing and linkage to care at the John Bell Health Center. Back in the office, they also helped link clients to care by attempting to reach them on the phone or by mail to schedule a first appointment for treatment. The interns researched endocarditis as it relates to injection drug use, and then created a questionnaire to be taken anonymously by clients about their safer injection techniques; they also created a brochure and flyer about safer injection to prevent infections such as endocarditis. One intern also assisted the newly opened Pediatric and Adolescent Health Center at FIGHT. At the pediatrics clinic, she developed educational slideshows and handouts on a variety of health topics. The slideshows can be shown on the exam room computers while patients are waiting for providers, and the handouts can be referenced during visits. She also created a plan to redesign the pediatrics webpage to become more user-friendly and interactive.

Intern Statements:
Matilda Whitney: “Working with an organization like FIGHT that has a good reputation across the city and where clients know we are coming to them with true intentions of helping them has given me many unforgettable moments; many clients have openly shared their stories or struggles or hopes with me, and even more would thank us and bless us for the time we gave them. It has been an experience I wish all of my friends and family could see, where simple gestures of compassion and non-judgment can break down a lot of barriers between people.”

Dina Zaret: “The past few months I have, more than ever, been asked exactly what kind of doctor I want to be. While I haven’t narrowed down that answer in terms of specialty, working at Philadelphia FIGHT has helped me build my response in other ways. FIGHT has demonstrated a progressive approach to holistic and interdisciplinary healthcare, giving me a model for what kind of system I want to practice in. Additionally, I saw constant displays of respect and empathy, both between coworkers and with patients. FIGHT has helped me see that those two values will be ones I require when choosing a field, where to practice and how I interact with others.”

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Joining the FIGHT: Providing Quality Health Care and Social Services for the Homeless

Student Intern:
Jennifer Chou, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Chip Alfred, Philadelphia FIGHT
Nikki Bromberg, MSW, Philadelphia FIGHT
Kim Chiaramonte, MSS, Broad Street Ministry Philadelphia FIGHT Clinic

The Community Site:
Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers Clinic at Broad Street Ministry is a satellite site of Philadelphia FIGHT’s John Bell Health Center that works in partnership with the Broad Street Ministry and its hospitality collaborative to offer primary care to the Ministry’s guests. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Hypertension; HIV; Mental Health; Substance Abuse.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern piloted a position as a health navigator to provide services for Broad Street Ministry guests seeking primary care at Philadelphia FIGHT’s new satellite clinic. The intern helped obtain insurance and welfare benefits for patients, escorted patients to area appointments, and facilitated communication and understanding between complex agencies, such as insurance companies and government representative, and the patients. The intern also interviewed both experienced and incumbentcommunity health workers to gather insight from their learned experiences to determine factors that could boost positive health outcomes for patients in the future.

Intern Statement:
Jennifer Chou: “My immersive experience at Broad Street Ministry and Philadelphia FIGHT has proved to be an invaluable opportunity to better understand the challenges that a misunderstood and gravely marginalized population such as the homeless face every day. Through listening to the unique stories, wishes and qualms of those around me and problem-solving ways to navigate the healthcare system together, I have been equipped with life-changing tools as a future healthcare provider. This internship has enriched my psychosocial skills, professional skills and healthcare policy knowledge far more than any experience I have ever had in the past, and I am truly grateful for all that I have learned.”

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A Lasting Impact on Children's Health

Student Interns:
Allison Lipshutz, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Ellena Popova, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Joel Fein, MD, MPH, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Center for Injury Research and Prevention
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Community Preceptor:
Colleen McCauley, RN, BSN, MPH, Public Citizens for Children and Youth

The Community Site:
Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) is a nonprofit organization established 30 years ago and dedicated to improving the lives and life chances of children in Southeastern Pennsylvania through thoughtful, informed advocacy. PCCY is focused on maximizing access and availability of health care, advocating for education and fair funding, improving the quality and quantity of childcare programs, and strengthening and building resources for families. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Environmental Health; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Physical Activity and Fitness; Vision and Hearing.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on various Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) projects such as the Lead-Free Philly Coalition, Give Kids Sight Day and Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) education for teens. The interns reached out to members of the community to increase involvement with PCCY, including advertising the fall fund-raiser for the Philadelphia School District and the free eye exam and glasses distribution event Give Kids Sight Day. They researched lead poisoning and prevention methods while putting together various statistics to spread awareness about lead poisoning in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. They contacted local landlords, lead remediation companies and families to collect personal stories for a long-term advocacy effort to change the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure and Certification Law. They supported the development of a curriculum for the teen pregnancy prevention initiative LARC Education Sessions for Teens by examining existing sex education curricula, researching adolescent and parental perspectives on LARCs, and suggesting best practices for training session coordinators and leading focus groups. The student interns also had the opportunity to meet state senators and experience lobbying in Harrisburg for early educational programs for children and to attend a press conference on the detainment of immigrant children.

Intern Statements:
Allison Lipshutz: “At PCCY, I was able to grasp a better understanding of macro-level work and develop a great appreciation for it. Advocating at the policy level allowed me to witness the hard work and determination that goes into promoting change. It is incredible to think that the multiple tasks I assisted with throughout my time here, especially working to strengthen the Philadelphia Lead Disclosure and Certification Law, very well may have a large impact on future generations.”

Ellena Popova: “Working at PCCY gave me valuable insight into the role of health professionals in policy advocacy. I have a deeper understanding of how I can collaborate with local organizations to leverage my patient experiences and scientific knowledge to impact social determinants of health. It was inspiring to work with so many driven and dedicated people striving to improve the health of their community!”

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Displaying Community Identity and Promoting Health Care in Cobbs Creek

Student Interns:
Shivali Govani, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Katherine Navarette, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Joan Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Kent Bream, MD, Sayre Health Center

The Community Site:
The Dr. Bernett L. Johnson Jr. Sayre Health Center (BLJ SHC) is a Federally Qualified Health Center adjacent to Sayre High School in West Philadelphia. The BLJ SHC aims to promote health, prevent disease and provide primary care services to both Sayre students and residents of the surrounding community. It also seeks to provide educational opportunities for high school, undergraduate and graduate students. The BLJ SHC uses an interdisciplinary team approach, including medical, dental, social service, nursing, administrative and executive personnel. The BLJ SHC is a cooperative effort of the University of Pennsylvania, Sayre High School and the West Philadelphia community surrounding the school, including students, their families and other community members of all ages. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health; Oral Health; Tobacco Use.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Dr. Bernett L. Johnson Jr. Sayre Health Center developed themed workshops on topics including mental health and self-care, oral health, cardiovascular health and smoking cessation. They provided several resources for each workshop, assisted patients with understanding and asked if and/or how patients wanted to be involved in the Dr. Bernett L. Johnson Jr. Sayre Health Center Project. The interns worked with Dr. Bream to create a picture mosaic, including more than 100 pictures of the Cobbs Creek community and Sayre Health Center’s patient population. The interns consistently interacted with community members to get to know the community on a deeper level.

Intern Statements:
Shivali Govani: “Bridging the Gaps at Sayre has increased my awareness of healthcare needs on a community level, especially that of an underserved community. My interactions have taught me about the barriers to healthcare at the administrative and clinic level but also the individual level, especially regarding skepticism and misconceptions. These experiences have better equipped me to handle tough situations, communicate more effectively and personably, and view health holistically as I pursue my career in dentistry.”

Katherine Navarette: “The BTG CHIP experience at Dr. Bernett L. Johnson Jr. Sayre Health Center has given me a deeper understanding of what is important to members of SHC’s community. Getting to know SHC’s staff, patients and members of the surrounding area has been extremely rewarding and has given me the opportunity to remove underlying prejudices and (heard of) reputations of West Philadelphia. Not only did I get to interact with community members, but I was also honored to learn about some of their personal stories. My personal and professional development has grown tremendously throughout this experience.”

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Community Nourishment: A Shared Vision

Student Interns:
Jacob Barmann, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
John DeCaro, Drexel University College of Medicine
Matthew Volpe, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice

Academic Preceptors:
Zvi Gellis, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice
Pat Lannutti, DO, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Sandra Wolf, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Steveanna Wynn, Share Food Program

The Community Site:
The Share Food Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving a regional network of community organizations engaged in food distribution, education and advocacy. Share has operated in Philadelphia for over 30 years, aiming to reduce hunger and promote healthy living by offering affordable, nutritious food to all community members. Share manages complex food distribution operations in order to bring a reliable monthly stream of food relief to more than 500 volunteer-led food cupboards, which in turn help feed more than 600,000 low-income individuals throughout eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and metropolitan New York. Share is the leading Philadelphia agency for the State Food Purchase Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and the organization brings over 25 million pounds of emergency food relief to low-income Philadelphia residents facing hunger. The on-site community garden, Nice Roots Farm, provides educational opportunities for community members about the process of growing food to promote self-reliance. Through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Share prepares and delivers nutritious monthly food packages to 6,000 seniors throughout Philadelphia, Bucks County and Montgomery County. Share’s own Package Program has no participation requirements and expands access to affordable food by offering significantly discounted food packages to individuals and families in the community. Share also distributes the food through a network of 100 partnering host organizations. Share engages in food advocacy and is an active participant in regional and national forums that promote food justice. The organization has numerous partnerships with nonprofits, community-based and public-sector agencies, including the School District of Philadelphia. Share is also the fiscal sponsor of Sunday Suppers, which promotes positive health through family dinners. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health Communication; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Share Food Program participated in a full range of ground-level operations necessary to keep each of Share’s programs running efficiently. Throughout the summer, the interns were able to work both individually and in teams with many program managers, directors and staff members in order to understand their roles within the organization and to assist in the activities of each of their programs. The interns ran the biweekly Share farm stand and traveled to senior centers and other community organizations to run pop-up farm stands. They coordinated diverse groups of volunteers—from teenagers to corporate management—in warehouse improvement projects and food package assembly tasks. The interns also organized and helped deliver large quantities of nonperishable food to food pantries and other partner organizations that serve low-income communities.

Intern Statements:
Jacob Barmann: “Being a part of the Bridging the Gaps community this summer was such an invaluable experience, both personally and professionally. Coming into Share the first day, I was hesitant about what to expect, but within a few hours of arriving Steveanna introduced us to the entire staff and made us feel right at home. Right off the bat, we were packaging meals, organizing inventory and on the truck delivering food to various communities. Throughout these last two months we all formed amazing relationships with the staff at Share and got their personal perspectives on the communities we served. Being able to see firsthand what these communities have to endure had such a profound impact on me, and Steveanna was always there with the in-depth socioeconomic explanation of why things were this way. In the end I began to realize that although what we do is such an incredible and heroic deed, this is only a Band-Aid on the bigger problem. These communities lack the resources to flourish, and without immense infrastructural changes coming from the government, people living in these communities will always be struggling. Now I am much more aware of what people in these communities go through, and it will forever change my approach in how I treat them as patients.”

John DeCaro: “This internship program provided me with valuable experiences that will undoubtedly have an influence on my career. First, Ms. Wynn’s drive, charisma, enthusiasm and selflessness were pervasive, helping me to appreciate the importance of those traits in an effective leader. Second, the opportunity to participate in an experience that is so starkly different from clinical medicine and studying was highly rejuvenating, allowing me to return to school refreshed. Most importantly, my experience at Share has provided me with an immense amount of perspective regarding socioeconomic status and race and their effect on access to food, suitable living conditions, healthcare and education. That is a fact that, in my opinion, can only be fully recognized through continuous immersion into communities in which these inadequacies are present. I am confident that Share has left a lasting impression on me which will allow me to be a more compassionate, empathetic physician.”

Matthew Volpe: “I appreciated the wide variety of my experiences at the Share Food Program this summer. I was glad to have had the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary team alongside two medical students on outreach tasks, running deliveries, coordinating volunteers, spending time shadowing management and staff, and engaging with the individuals, families and organizations that rely on Share’s services. The time that I spent in under-resourced communities and with community members personally impacted me and broadened my professional lens as a future social worker. I enjoyed being able to observe and participate in the operations of such an essential, tireless nonprofit organization, and I especially valued the guidance and candid honesty of the executive director, Steveanna Wynn. I was impressed by Share’s respected place within and among Philadelphia’s communities, its culture of loyal volunteerism and the years of dedication given by so many of its employees. I felt like I was one small part of a bustling team at Share, both learning about and working towards the organization’s unified goal: to increase individual and community health through more equitable food access.”

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Breaking the Sickle Cycle

Student Interns:
Rachel Fulton, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
Ashley Roberts, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Joan I. Gluch, PhD, RDH, PHDHP, University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine
Jennifer Joyce, MD, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Marjorie Dejoie-Brewer, MD, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter (SCDAA/PDVC)

The Community Site:
The mission of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter (SCDAA/PDVC), is to provide psychosocial and social services to address the needs of children, adolescents, adults and families affected by sickle cell disease. SCDAA/PDVC endeavors to develop and improve patient access to resources in collaboration with community hospitals, community-based organizations, and social service organizations and agencies. A prime example of these connections is the partnership with the Bridging the Gaps summer internship program. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Physical Activity and Fitness.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns collaborated with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter (SCDAA/PDVC), to create and distribute education tools important for improving the community’s awareness of sickle cell disease (SCD) and support services. Interns participated in advocacy events at the Capitol in Harrisburg and communicated with legislators to encourage the passing of S.2465, a bill that supports research funding for SCD. They assisted in executing other advocacy events in conjunction with community-based organizations such as New Foundations, Inc., Johnson and Johnson, and WHYY. They created newsletters of SCD events to be distributed, developed a coloring book to teach children about treatment for SCD, and developed flyers and presentations to educate the community about the disease. Additionally, each week, interns visited patients with SCD in the hospital and stayed in contact with them throughout the summer to address their concerns about their condition and how they were coping with it.

Intern Statements:
Rachel Fulton: “This summer has given me an invaluable experience that I am confident will shape my future endeavors as a physician. By interning at SCDAA, I was privileged to become an advocate for patients suffering from sickle cell disease. Though I had learned about this disease in my first year of medical school, I was exposed to the real-life struggles of those with sickle cell disease. I witnessed their painful episodes, I listened as they told me they could not find employment due to the unpredictability of their disease, and I watched the way they were stigmatized by some members of the healthcare team. Working with Dr. Dejoie and meeting patients on a weekly basis, I saw just how important it was for these patients to have a caring, empathetic provider, and thus I am rejuvenated in my mission to bring that empathy to each patient I encounter in the future. This summer taught me how necessary it is to work in interdisciplinary teams to address all needs of our patients and how we must keep advocating for our patients by educating the public, connecting patients to resources, and most importantly, seeing the person beneath the patient.”

Ashley Roberts: “Working with Dr. Dejoie and my fellow BTG intern has truly been an eye-opening experience this summer. I have gained new and expanded awareness of the social implications that surround not only sickle cell disease but other health complications. This has already begun to change how I interact with patients, especially in terms of the types of questions that I ask them in order to have a better understanding of their health, mental, economic and family status, which all can affect their health outcome. Interning at SCDAA has taught me quite a bit about sickle cell disease and how much of a difference advocacy makes in the lives of patients living with this disease. Through advocacy events, blood drives, email blasts, workshops and much more, raising awareness not only recruits more individuals interested in fighting for the cause but increases the pool of resources that are much needed by the patients.”

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Addressing Social Determinants of Health in North Philadelphia

Student Intern:
Anna Braginskaya, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Sandra Wolf, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Kelly Courts, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children

The Community Site:
St. Christopher’s physicians, nurse practitioners and staff understand the health implications that food insecurity (FI)—inadequate access to healthy food—has on children and families. The Center for the Urban Child (CUC) of St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is an outpatient center for families in North Philadelphia whose mission is to serve the health and well-being of this community, including screening and addressing social determinants of health in the office setting. Since 2010 hospital-wide initiatives to address FI have been developed using a multipronged approach. Families are screened for FI in the CUC, and those that are positive are given a Food Resource Guide and assistance from physicians/lawyers/social workers to access resources. In addition, the hospital has a WIC office for easy access for families. The Farm to Families program provides boxes of healthy produce from local farms at a reduced rate with prescriptions for boxes of food from providers; the program includes nutrition education, cooking demonstrations and outreach. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Care; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Environmental Health; Maternal, Infant and Child Health; Nutrition and Weight Status.

The Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern worked in a dynamic role to improve the capacity of the Center for the Urban Child (CUC) to support patients’ social needs as part of the Collaborative to Advance Social Health Integration (CASHI) at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. The intern’s involvement in CASHI gave her the opportunity to improve the CUC’s process of screening for social determinants of health through observing and tracking how screeners are utilized by providers to address recognized disparities. Her additional CASHI projects included the administration of a survey to patients to assess interest in financial services being offered at the clinic and involvement in creating a database of updates and improvements for Cap4Kids, the toolbox of online Philadelphia resources available to professionals and patients, designed to link families to community agencies and supports. The intern addressed food insecurity through her involvement in enrolling people in Farm to Families, a program that supplies a box of fresh, local produce at a discounted price, as well as a weekly farm stand that promotes healthy eating. She collaborated with a representative from the Health Promotion Council of Philadelphia who does food samples during the Farm to Families Program to create an interactive and engaging heart health poster to go along with a heart-healthy food sample and recipe. Finally, the intern conducted follow-ups with patients participating in an asthma research study to better understand how social determinants such as the environment affect the North Philadelphia population.

Intern Statement:
Anna Braginskaya: “While my connections with patients at the Hunger Free Health Care Center at the Center for the Urban Child have been transient, my involvement in the projects, programs and people I worked with on a regular basis have gotten me invested in their long-term success. In a short seven weeks, Bridging the Gaps showed me the importance of not only acting on immediate solutions to food insecurity, such as direct food distribution, but also how to reach beyond that to address the root causes of community and health disparities, such as poverty. I am grateful to have taken part in an experience that gave me so much perspective not only about compassionate, trauma-informed medical care, but also about the work that goes on behind the scenes to create a healthcare center that looks at patients holistically, recognizing social as well as medical needs. I was inspired by staff working so hard on a systems level to bring community resources to a population that would likely struggle to seek out those resources on their own; change is hard, but they saw the obstacles as stepping-stones rather than stop signs, and I plan to carry that mentality with me throughout my personal and professional life.”

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